There were two moments that leaped out at me in the last minute of the tonight. One involved the young Richmond rookie, Mabior Chol, and another involving Josh Jenkins.

Jenkins’ knee bent at an angle the human leg should not with under 30 seconds to go after he soccered the ball off the ground, planted his foot and bent it backwards. A little bit of look at me here – I’ve had the exact same thing happen to me, many years ago. It is no fun, and after such a fantastic return in the last few weeks, I hope it’s just a hyper-extension and nothing more. He deserves a better run at it.

The other moment came when Bruce McAvaney decided to heap praise on Chol in the dying moments of the game. Yeah, he did look good at points – quite agile for a big fella, actually. Young rucks can sometimes have an element of baby giraffe about them – he doesn’t, but if you want to look at how the Crows took advantage of Chol in the ruck, take a look at the clearance numbers.

Actually, that’s what I’m here for. Let me do it for you. The Crows had 48 clearances on the night. Richmond had just 24. Now, I know we have some mathematical geniuses amongst us, so I am sure I don’t have to point out that the Crows doubled the Tigers’ wins at stoppages, and that was because Reilly O’Brien completely obliterated his young opponent.

It just struck me as strange – O’Brien was a monster, but Bruce decides to talk up the guy who got beat. Anyway…

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

 

BRAD CROUCH

So, coming into this round, Crouch of the Brad-variety was sitting fourth in midfielders and 12th overall in our Mongrel Player Power Rankings. He did that ranking no harm tonight, with a blinding career-high 43 disposals.

He added a mammoth 11 clearances to lead the game, and is displaying the kind of connection with Reilly O’Brien that will be making Sam Jacobs very nervous about his chances of getting back into the team.

As I highlighted above, the Crows destroyed the Tigers at stoppages, and whilst much of the credit goes to O’Brien, Brad Crouch’s effort to get first hands on the ball were absolutely first class all game. He worked hard to send the ball inside 50 on six occasions, and was also present in the defensive 50 when needed, highlighting his huge running work rate.

This season has been spectacular from Crouch as he re-establishes himself as one of the premier mids in the game. Combined with his brother, the pair amassed 78 possessions between them, and when you watch them combine in a chain of possession, the Crows look potent as a result.

 

THE TEXAN

What a game he could’ve had. You know, I take a few notes during the game just so I know what I am talking about at points like this.

Within these notes, I have Tex getting both hands to the ball on six occasions and not pulling down the mark. Now, you could take him dropping a couple of them – they weren’t spoiled; he just dropped them but six? He could have had a monster game. At times, he looked more like Tim O’Brien at Hawthorn than Taylor Walker.

Pretty big insult, I know, but no one almost takes a mark quite like Tim O’Brien.

So Tex ended up taking eight marks, but could very well have taken 13-14 and been the best player on the park. He was still really good, but he could have been dominant tonight. Maybe that performance isn’t too far away.

He took a couple of very nice contested marks, including one pack grab reminiscent of last week, and slotted three goals and as many behinds on the night. He went a long way to answering his critics this week, and I reckon there’ll be a few apologies coming his way if this kind of form continues.

All that aside, my favourite Tex moment of the game was when he had the opportunity to put a Richmond player on his ass and he took it, crashing into Brandon Ellis and knocking him to the ground with a nice bump. That’s the Tex Walker I want to see, and I reckon when he laid that hit, there would’ve been many Crows supporters exchanging smiles.

Great to see the big fella playing good footy.

 

THE DESK

There was a point in the second half where Laird continually got his hands on the ground ball in contested situations and fired it off to a teammate in better position.

So, what else is new, right?

Laird gathered 32 disposals and ran at an incredible 93.8% efficiency. Again with the maths… I think that means he was ineffective with two touches on the night in yet another display of precision defensive work. He had eight intercepts, eight Rebound 50s, and his willingness to put his body in when required was inspirational.

I’ve had a few people over the journey state that my praise for Laird was a little over the top last season, and that he got plenty of easy ball. Bite your tongues! The man is absolute quality, and his decision-making with the ball in hand may be equalled, but it is certainly not surpassed.

 

UN-TACKLE-ABLE

The more I watch Cam Ellis-Yolmen, the more I like him.

And the more I am scared of him.

Imagine trying to stop this bloke if he wanted to hurt you? I think begging might be my only chance. Either that, or a nut-shot. The way he was able to throw tackles off him tonight was remarkable, and on one occasion it led directly to a shot at goal from Brodie Smith after he shrugged two.

Ellis-Yolmen is a beast. His combination with Hugh Greenwood is one of that will probably fly under the radar, but when you have Ellis-Yolmen standing in tackles, winning clearances and bouncing around like a very solid pinball, and then you have Greenwood tackling like a maniac, you have an additional component to your team that is so much more than the regular see-ball/get-ball midfielders.

I have my favourite players on every team. I’m like a kid in that regard (and also in intellectual capacity and writing style) and Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Hugh Greenwood are quickly becoming two of my favourites in this Crows team.

Now, if only I can convince Don Pyke to get Darcy Fogarty back into that side to bowl a few blokes over…

 

THREE QUARTERS OF DUSTY

I was going to entitle this section “Dustin Mart”

Because th
at is three quarters of Dustin Martin, you see? And then I thought I probably shouldn’t be a twat. Good call, huh?

I liked what we saw from Dusty through the first three quarters. It appeared as though the cue went into the rack as soon as the game looked to be gone for the Tigers, which is why I wouldn’t have him anywhere near votes.

He finished with his third 30+ disposal game in the past five, and though the Tigers aren’t winning, he is giving them a shot. He snagged a couple of goals and laid four tackles as well.

 

THE BIG MAN

Take a bow, Reilly O’Brien. Let Bruce McAvaney gush over the kid who finished with eight touches and 13 hit outs – we’ll place the attention where it is thoroughly deserved; on you.

His story is one of the best of the 2019 season, as he replaced the injured Sam Jacobs and has proceeded to announce his arrival in the FL with a string of impressive performances in the ruck. Tonight was arguably his best to date.

Seeing the mismatch, O’Brien took advantage destroying both Chol and Noah Balta around stoppages en route to a career-high 54 hit outs. But he wasn’t done there – he had 19 disposals at 90% efficiency, nine score involvements, six clearances and seven tackles to be one of the best players on the ground. These kinds of numbers are Max Gawn, or Brodie Grundy numbers.

Maybe the Crows don’t need to throw the kitchen sink at Grundy after all?

 

TOM LYNCH… THE OTHER ONE

I liked the game of Tom Lynch for the Tigers tonight. I mean, had I liked the game of Tom Lynch for the Crows, that would’ve been weird, since he didn’t play, right?

I thought Talia was on top early, but Lynch fought back to take five contested grabs for the game and have eight score involvements. I don’t think we’re going to see him tear a game completely to shreds this season, but we’re really starting to see what he could once again become in flashes.

The Tigers have really relied on Lynch this season, and in an interesting stat, it was pointed out to me that he is one of the few Richmond players to have played every game this year. Wow, I would never have picked that.

 

GUTTING IT OUT

Three men down before Jenkins hurt himself, it was the Crows who were the walking wounded in this one. Lachie Murphy was gone in the first quarter, Daniel Talia was a huge loss, and Jake Kelly tightened up as well and sat out the majority of the last quarter.

In short, even with Richmond playing an inexperienced side, the Crows had no right to run this out the way they did. They were down on rotations and should’ve been exhausted.

At least that’s what I’ve heard about teams that can’t run out games all year – personally, I think that’s bullshit. Intelligent play, good ball use, and playing both hard and smart are great ways to combat being down on rotations and credit has to go to the Adelaide coaching staff for managing through a dicey situation.

The Crows were able to play pressure football without completely exhausting themselves. They were able to prevent the Tigers from exploding off half back, and they were able to do it without copious amounts of interchanges.

THE BAD

 

UN-RICHMOND-LIKE FUMBLES

Jack Higgins, Daniel Rioli… jump back in time 12 months and picture those two fellas. What can you remember?

Great hands, bobbing up and creating opportunity for themselves and others, and crispness when part of a chain of handballs or kicks? That’s what I remember. They were doing the special, but they were doing the hard work to create the special stuff. They looked like they were having fun out there. Higgins was laughing and joking, Rioli was all smiles and high fives, but the merriment is no longer there. Reality has struck, and like an ordinary 90s movie… Reality Bites!

If you want to pinpoint a moment that the wheels fell off for the Tigers, you can. It belonged to Daniel Rioli in the last quarter, and it was just one simple fumble that halted the Tigers’ momentum on the far wing. He retained possession after gathering, but instead of a quick entry inside 50, Richmond had to chip it around.

The turnover came, Jordan Galluccci pumped the ball long inside the Crows 50 where Josh Jenkins marked on his chest and goaled from the square.

From that moment on, the Crows out-scored the Tigers by 17 points.

It was a simple thing – the kind of thing you expect a player of his skill to do mindlessly. You hope he pays attention, but even if he doesn’t, you’d expect him to gather cleanly 99 times out of 100. This was seemingly that one time, though.

I was critical of Rioli last week and if the Tigers weren’t being cruelled by injuries right now, I’d think another trio to the VFL would be in order. He had 11 touches, two tackles, two goals (both from great passes) and no tackles inside 50. He is in the team on name at the moment.

Higgins looks like his confidence is shot. He was pretty good defensively, but is a far cry from the offensive sparkplug he was in 2018. Gone is the youthful exuberance of last season and there is a look of resignation about him – like a young fella that has realised that this isn’t all fun and games.

There are a lot of things to look forward to in regard to the second half of the season. They’re basically half a VFL side out there currently, but unless they get a lift from those already there when the Riewoldt/Cotchin/Edwards combination is back on the park, people may start talking about the Tigers as a spent force.

I’m not there yet – not by a long way, but the signs from their livewires are worrying.

 

WAYNE MILERA

I might be being a little harsh here, but he seemed really off tonight. Struggled to find space, and when he did, he couldn’t hit a target. The early part of the last quarter was tight, and it looked as though Milera was feeling that acutely.

He ran at 66.7% disposal efficiency, but his kicking was the part that let him down. It’s fine to hit targets by hand, but when you’re missing by foot it places teammates under pressure unnecessarily. I suppose he was covered by the excellence of Rory Laird coming out of defence, but on the whole, Milera was the Anti-Laird in this game.

 

THE UGLY

 

NO PAIN OF LOSING
ON DISPLAY

There are some who will like this, and some who won’t. My opinion will be apparent, but I must stress that I don’t think there is a right or wrong stance – just shades of grey.

How many shades of grey? I don’t know…I haven’t read the book and only watched the movie for the purpose of critiquing their cinematography. Nah… I haven’t seen it, I swear.

Anyway, hot take alert in three, two, one. 

I know there was a level of beauty in the embrace between Sydney Stack and Eddie Betts after Eddie snapped yet another great goal from the pocket late in the game. On one level, it was great to see game recognising game, but there is something about a player whose team is being beaten, hugging and smiling with a bloke who just kicked a goal against him that rubs me the wrong way. After the game, I’m all for it. I like Eddie as much as the next guy. Go to his house for dinner if you like. While the game is still live… nup, I don’t like it.

My guess is that this will be celebrated, and as I said, where you sit on it is just a matter of opinion. However, there is also a competitive game of footy going on between two supposed contenders. This is high stakes, and if you’re a Richmond supporter feeling frustrated and defeated, or even a teammate, I’m not sure you want to see one of your players ostensibly joining in the goal celebration of an opposition player. Minutes before, Josh Caddy was pushing and shoving with his opponents after kicking a goal… he was fired up – the will to win was still strong. I know that Betts’ goal was great, and the game was all but done, but it was still a contest. Hugging and smiling after a goal has been kicked against you… I do not like the look of it at all. Perhaps he could’ve joined Eddie to sing the song after the game, too?

Maybe I’m just old-school. Or maybe that’s just a nice way of saying “old” and whilst I’m probably in the minority on this, I know I’m not on an island. 

I received a message from a reader moments after the Betts goal. It simply read “What the fuck is Sydney Stack so happy about?”

It’s a good question. Maybe one of you can answer it for me if you have a different take. I won’t be shitting on your opinion – I doubt I’ll be extended the same courtesy?

I know that it is a nice little advertisement for the AFL, but we all have our personal preferences, and I would prefer that a player on the team I support looks like he’s a little pissed that his opponent just kicked a goal, particularly when that player was supposed to be the one he was covering. I don’t care what was said before the game, what was said during the game, or what was said after Stack smothered Betts’ shot at goal previously.

I want to see players on my team caring as much about winning and losing as I do at the very least, and I don’t think that garbage time goals are things to smile about when your percentage is terrible. Maybe someone can high five Stack if the Tigers miss top four by percentage?

It’s not a whack job on Stack. I loved his run through the guts in the first quarter to get the Tigers running, and I think he was one of Richmond’s best. Hell, his hit on Jack Viney earlier in the year was one of my favourite moments of the year. 

Some will applaud him, but i remember the crap Dyson Heppell copped for smiling with his own teammate after Essendon lost to Sydney? He was roasted for it and rightly so because he looked as though the loss didn’t matter to him. It may have, but I didn’t appear as though it did. Same with Stack in this situation. If I supported the Tigers, I would be pretty annoyed.

Yours Sincerely

The Possibly Unreasonable Football Grinch

 

 

QUICK BITS

I thought Alex Keath did a pretty admirable job, particularly once Talia hit the pine, but there were a few times where he didn’t back himself in a contest, which I found strange, particularly as he was the maniac running back with the flight and getting collected by Kyle Hartigan a few weeks ago. He was by no means poor – I’d just like to see him back himself every time the ball is there to be marked.

I got the distinct feeling that there was a concerted effort from the umps not to be influenced by the loud Adelaide crowd tonight, particularly after the skewed free kick count against GWS. If I had to choose, I thought there were more free kicks missed for the Crows than Tigers.

Dylan Grimes’ legs are so pale they look like he’s walking around on fluorescent light tubes with boots on.

I really liked the first quarter of Dion Prestia. He has been really consistent for the Tigers this season. If I were giving votes at quarter time, I had Prestia with three, Stack with two, and Brad Crouch with one.

Really interesting season for Josh Caddy to this point. He is up in most key stats, but is down almost a goal per game on last year. With Riewoldt out, he is the one they need a lift from.

A couple of bone-head plays from Brodie Smith in this one. I have no clue as to why he played on after marking 60 out in the first quarter. There was a lot of “deer in the headlights” about him in that one.

I saw something I really disliked in the waning stages of the first quarter. There was a loose ball on the Richmond half forward line. Both Rory Sloane and Dion Prestia charged at it, and then both pulled up abruptly and reached down for the footy. There was barely a touch of the bodies between them. This is where we’re at with physicality in the game at times. Don’t be afraid to lay the hurt on someone, fellas – I’d say they’d do it to you if they had a chance, but I guess this action on both guys’ behalf proves me wrong.

Speaking of Sloane, another high quality outing for him tonight. Nine clearances amongst his 28 touches, and a couple of goals for the second week on the trot… he is playing some very nice football this season.

Jason Castagna is running at 57% disposal efficiency for the season. For someone who gets just four contested touches per game, he needs to do more.

Umps seem really selective with what constitutes a sling tackle. It seems as though a player MUST hit their head on the ground for them to call it. Early in the third quarter, Dustin martin dumped Brad Crouch in a bit of a sling tackle, and nothing happened. Don’t get me wrong – I love that nothing happened, but if you’re going to ping others for doing it, be consistent and punish the action, not the result.

Anyway, I hate the sling tackle rule – another rule implemented to water down the physicality of our unique game.

I liked Jack Graham’s game for the Tigers. He was hard at it all game, and I thought he was pretty stiff to be caught holding the ball in the third quarter, that ended up resulting in an Atkins goal. 23 touches and 11 tackles is a good day at the office for the man with tree trunks for legs.

Did Richard Douglas do enough to maintain his spot next
week? Personally, I’d like Bryce Gibbs in that role.

Players not up to it at AFL at the moment? Chol, Dan Butler (zero tackles as a pressure forward!), Connor Menadue, Ryan Garthwaite, Jason Castagna. But I guess it’s more about who is available to bring in, isn’t it?

And that’ll about do us tonight. The Crows head into the bye sitting in a great spot. After some early hiccups, these last two wins against quality opposition have been first class. That get out of jail win against Melbourne really set them up for the wins over GWS and now Richmond. Most of you are probably aware…I tipped the Crows for the flag.

The Tigers, well, my mate Johnny Affa was on the horn again. He reckons they’ll be thumping sides by Round 17. I guess we’ll see. As I stated above, it’s not just who you get back – it’s what’s required from those already there. They need more from plenty.

Get well soon, JJ – your return has been fantastic thus far.

 

 

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